At ₹4,04,364.71 crore the total defence budget for 2018-19 represents 2.16 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and, more importantly, 16.56 per cent of the total central government expenditure (CGE) envisaged in the union budget. This works out to a nearly 44.5 per cent increase over the total defence budget outlay of ₹2,80,202.87 crore for 2014-15 at a reasonably healthy year-on-year growth rate of nearly 9.5 per cent.
But this healthy exterior starts crumbling as one goes down to the granular details. For one thing, the overall growth has been driven largely by the steeply rising bill for salaries and pensions after implementation of the seventh pay commission recommendations and the one-rank-one pension (OROP) scheme during this period, and not by higher allocations for operational expenditure of the armed forces.
The salaries of the armed forces personnel and the civilians working in defence establishments, excluding the entire complement of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) and the Military Engineer Service (MES), has risen by 57.60 per cent from ₹75,391 crore in 2014-15 to ₹1,15,669 for 2018-19. Meanwhile, the pension bill has risen from ₹51,000 crore to ₹1,08,853 crore. These two elements account for more than 55.50 per cent of the total defence budget for 2018-19.
The outlay for defence pensions has HC TIWARI